BY JIM ARBER
For The Vista
It has been difficult to get a status report on the Crab Orchard Wind farm from the developer. It may be that there is just nothing happening yet as much is to be decided.
We did find out that all the proposed legislation and angst created by this project may not even be necessary. Turns out the marketplace may take care of all the concern and gnashing of teeth. Apex is currently waiting for TVA to commit to purchase power from Crab Orchard Wind. That may not happen and if it does not it looks like Crab Orchard Wind may simply never come into existence.
Apex is looking for OutTakers which is another word for paying customers under contract. Without these OutTakers, it may not be possible for Apex Wind Energy to go through with this project. They don’t get paid until they start selling energy. You know that….Right???
Apex Wind has already signed a lease for the project with the owner of the affected property so it appears they do have significant skin in the game. We no longer have a copy of that lease but I did not see a release clause in case the farm falls through.
Just for your information, the owner of all that land up there is a western corporation named Lonestar Energy. If you thought the lease money would stay in Cumberland Couonty, think again. Lonestar seems to be a shell set up to facilitate corporate ownership of this Crab Orchard property. Lone Star started acquiring this property in 2004 and continued until 2006. They now own in excess of 13K acres.
Another effort that muddies the water even more is the Clean Line Energy Partners project known as Plains and Eastern Line. They also want to sell energy to TVA. P & E has plans to build a 700-mile wind power transmission line from Oklahoma across Arkansas to Memphis. P & E are also awaiting a decision from TVA.
So, as you know doubt know, Crab Orchard Wind is not definite. The proposed legislation against it may or may not pass. TVA may decide against it. TVA may decide to buy from P & E. Who knows? Sen. Lamar Alexander is dead against wind power for some reason. Can he influence TVA? One thing for sure. Tennessee needs cheap energy. We are currently 4th in the United States for the highest rate of residential electrical energy consumption. Tennesseans used an average of 6.3MWh per capita in 2015. That’s 3.5 times more energy per residence than Hawaii which uses the least. This means that we have an enormous potential for energy savings if we get smart. You should note than just a few years ago we were #1 in energy consumption per residence in the country. We’re doin better but we still have that huge potential for saving.
Will it be Wind? Maybe, great strides have been made in Wind Power over the last several years. It is much more efficient and reliable than it once was. Over the last 3 years, it has been consistently lower than Natural Gas prices according to the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
Will it be Solar? Maybe – great strides. Will it be Nuclear? Maybe, who knows. One thing does seem certain. The potential for cost reduction in Tennessee is huge.
As the Crab Orchard Wind project status becomes more clear it will be reported here.
It is not at all clear at this point. Everything reported on here is correct to the best of my knowledge but that, for sure, is not perfect.
Jim Arber is a freelance writer living in Cumberland County, TN. He can be reached with comments at [email protected]